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Amazon launches Fire TV-exclusive free, ad-supported streaming channels

With the launch of Fire TV Channels this week, Amazon is doubling down on free, ad-supported content. Fire TV Channels will now be updated throughout the day and integrated into Home Screen rows, the “Free” tab, and genre-specific pages on Fire TV.

Fire TV also has a new Travel category with Tastemade Travel, “Rick Steves’ Europe,” “Travel Hacks,” and soon Condé Nast Traveler, as well as NHL, Xbox, and TMZ FAST channels. Fire TV Channels will add PGA content later.

Customer behavior and rising demand for free streaming content influenced this Fire TV update, the company said.

“We’ve offered some of this [FAST] content for a while for customers—we’ve helped them discover it throughout the [user interface] by having rows of content for example throughout ‘Home’ or other pages,” says Charlotte Maines, director of Advertising, Monetization, Marketing, and Engagement for Fire TV. When we surface it in a topical way, they engage with it.This content has been streamed 300% more in the past six months. So we know it works for our customers,” she added.

The executive attributed growth to several factors. For one, customers are saturated with streaming video-on-demand and don’t want to add more subscriptions to their monthly bills or keep up with more services. FAST channels don’t require users to sign up or create an account to watch.

Maines notes that the Fire TV interface will now integrate all FAST content, including news, sports, food and cooking, music videos, trailers, gaming videos, comedy, and more.

The news category includes national news and over 330 local news channels, including new FAST channels from NBC and Telemundo later this week.

Amazon promises more categories “coming soon” on Fire TV’s “Free” tab.

Amazon’s NewFronts presentation also included updates to Freevee, which offers FAST channels. Freevee, unlike Fire TV Channels, is available on mobile devices and other non-Amazon media players and TVs.

Amazon’s DSP allows advertisers to directly target Fire TV’s Prime subscribers and younger families. Amazon can sell Fire TV’s FAST channel ads using its larger advertising team.

Amazon has sold over 200 million Fire TV devices worldwide, and its ad-supported streaming solutions now reach 155 million unduplicated monthly viewers, or 6 out of 10 U.S. adults.

An automotive client’s native ads on Fire TV and Fire tablets increased brand awareness by 11% and purchase intent by 14%. Amazon said 72% of its streaming TV viewers don’t watch linear TV, citing Nielsen data.

FAST channels aren’t exclusive to Amazon anymore. As of March, competitor Roku has over 350 FAST channels. Google TV announced 800 FAST channels, and YouTube has been testing them. Plex, Warner Bros. Discovery, Tubi, and Sling TV are joining Pluto TV in this market.

Amazon announced this week’s Fire TV update. The Fire TV Home Screen and “Free” tab will feature the new content tiles. Fire TV Channels, an always-on destination, will unite all FAST categories this summer.

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